There is a war on blue across America, as police officers are targeted, ambushed, injured, and even killed. How have we as a nation come to believe that law enforcement is evil and that it is okay, or even justified, to hurt and murder the very people who put their lives on the line to protect us?
It seems that, for most Americans today, “These Proud United States” just does not ring true. Halfway into the year 2020 and we’ve already seen so much loss and destruction. The Coronavirus pandemic led to millions becoming unemployed or losing their businesses. While enduring mandated lockdowns, people watched in horror as a black man was killed by a white police officer. Even more businesses were lost as riots broke out in several states, exacerbating an already stressed economy and citizens’ financial difficulties.
Does one man’s death warrant the taking of hundreds of innocent lives not to mention millions in property damage? The senseless and tragic killing of George Floyd does not validate injuring and murdering police officers who had nothing to do with Floyd’s treatment or his demise. Police officers have family and friends grieving for them now and now the nation must mourn the loss of sanity and order during the chaos that has ensued.
While violence and destruction erupt throughout cities, local law enforcement officers are told to use restraint and sometimes to back down, even as their precincts and vehicles are vandalized and torched. They stand together, trying to bring order to chaos – and have become targets for so many who see police officers as the enemy. They watch, in helpless shock and pain, as their brethren are taken down.
Dave Patrick Underwood
On May 29, in Oakland, CA, Federal Protective Service officer Dave Patrick Underwood, 53, was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building after looting and rioting broke out over the death of George Floyd. At about 9:45 p.m., a white van reportedly pulled up to the building, and one of its occupants started shooting at the security personnel stationed there. Three officers were shot, including Underwood, who did not survive. Another was left in critical condition.
Underwood, a black officer in the Department of Homeland Security, loved cars and baseball. He donated to Soulful Softball Sunday, an organization where community members gather once a year to play softball and conduct charitable activities throughout the year.
Underwood’s sister is Angela Underwood Jacobs, a Lancaster city councilwoman who also ran for Congress. She confirmed his death in a tweet, saying, “My brother, Dave Patrick Underwood, a federal officer, was murdered 5/29/20 in Oakland California, while on duty during the riots. This Violence Must Stop.”
Officer Shay Mikalonis
On June 1, Las Vegas police officer Shay Mikalonis was one of many law enforcement personnel called out to help contain the mob. Although the earlier protest had been peaceful, it didn’t take long for the looters and rioters to come out. The Metropolitan Police Department officers were outside Circus Circus, and officer Mikalonis was in the process of handcuffing a protester.
Across the street, a man fired a handgun at the officers. A single shot found its way to the 29-year-old Mikalonis, traveling through his spine and lodging in the right side of his face. He collapsed to the ground and was taken to the hospital where he was put on life support. Video surveillance showed the suspect continue to open fire as he walked down the street.
Mikalonis was a wide receiver on his school’s varsity team and was raised in a law enforcement family. He joined Metro in 2016, becoming a member of the same force for which both of his parents worked. He remains today in critical condition.
Police Chief David Dorn
Retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn, 77, decided to spend his retirement still helping others. After leaving the force in 2007, Dorn became the police chief of Moline Acres, Missouri, in 2008, where he had been serving ever since.
On June 2 at around 2:30 a.m. Dorn’s body was found in front of Lee’s Pawn & Jewelry in St. Louis after he had tried to stop looters from destroying the business. The former captain had been friends with the establishment’s owner and frequently checked on it.
The irony: David Dorn, a black man, was shot and killed on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive during looting and rioting in the name of a black man killed by an officer. Police are searching for seven suspects in connection to his murder; all seven of them are black males. The pawnshop is now boarded up and has a memorial site for Dorn. A sign attached to it reads: “Y’all killed a black man because they killed a black man? Rest in Peace.”
Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller
At 1:30 p.m. on June 6 in Ben Lomond, an unincorporated area in Santa Cruz County, CA, a 911 caller claimed there was a suspicious van that contained guns and bomb-making materials. Deputies responded to the call and spotted the vehicle, following it to the home of suspect Steven Carrillo. The police officers followed the van down the driveway and then exited their vehicle to investigate. That is when they were ambushed by gunfire and explosives.
Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was struck by gunfire and died at the hospital. As the suspect vehicle fled, another deputy was hit by either gunfire or shrapnel, and the suspect’s vehicle also struck the officer as it sped away. That suspect, Carrillo, was shot during the arrest, but had non-life-threatening injuries and was treated at a hospital.
Sgt. Gutzwiller left behind a child and a wife who was pregnant with their second child.
These officers of the law probably never had any contact with George Floyd or even the officer that knelt for several minutes on Floyd’s neck. Yet they paid the ultimate price all the same. Their families and loved ones now suffer their loss as America becomes more divided, and racial tension continues to escalate. Hundreds more officers have been and continue to be hurt during the rioting over police brutality. How many more will die before the anger is sated? When will people realize that brutality is now being directed against police officers and store owners? Where is the outrage for these and other lives senselessly lost or destroyed?
Read more from Kelli Ballard.